Loose Lips

Third-Party Candidates Want In On Debates, With Mixed Results

Bruce Majors (left)

Bruce Majors is used to being left out.

After all, the Libertarian mayoral hopeful knows that third parties are often excluded from mainstream politics. But Majors’ party has the guaranteed ballot access that comes with being deemed a "major party," so when mayoral debates and forums are billed as just "mayoral," rather than for Democratic mayoral candidates only, he wants in.

Majors says there are a few debates he hasn’t been invited to or hasn’t been able to attend, including American University’s on Feb. 12. After seeing an ad promoting the forum, Majors tried to get invited, only to find out that the debate was limited to Democrats. His efforts earned Majors only a small victory—future ads, according to an AU spokesman, will be clearer.

Majors isn't the only one who sometimes has a tough time getting onstage. Eugene Puryear, a D.C. Statehood Green hoping for his party's at-large D.C. Council nomination, has a little experience being left out, too. Last month, Puryear and G. Lee Aikin, his rival for the Greens' nomination took matters into their own hands at the forum hosted by DC for Democracy and crashed the at-large debate.

Puryear says he worries about smaller parties being "ghettoized," and wants to make sure people have the opportunity to be informed about everyone in the running.

“I think it sort of creates a distinction that doesn’t need to be there,” Puryear says.

Majors, at least, will get his wish. The ACLU's District branch, the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and the American Institute of Architects all tell me that Majors is welcome at their mayoral forums.

Mission accomplished. Next up: getting elected in a town with 193 Libertarians and 336,779 Democrats.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • SuperD

    This article doesen't even require a response. I will say Muriel keep your mind on April 1, 2014.

  • mr. dc

    193 Libertarians? If that number goes over 200 and they keep their major party status, then candidates will have to gather 3 (instead of 2) signatures to get on the primary ballot. How can any organization not take them seriously!

  • http://www.DCLibertarians2014.blogspot.com Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayor

    Though we qualified for permanent ballot status in November 2012, it was mid-March 2013, mr. dc, when the D.C. government finally printed up new voter registration forms that had the "Libertarian" option. For months after that I was personally receiving calls from people at public libraries and the Department of Motor Vehicles saying they were trying to register to vote, but the only form available was the old one with no Libertarian option.

    You could, if you knew where to look, go on line and find a way to change a registration to Libertarian, if you were already registered to vote. But in December 2013 someone trying to do it pointed out something I hadn't noticed - even though the page where you change in registration on the Board of Elections website had a box for Libertarian, the boilerplate text with it had never been changed, and still did not tell you that Libertarian would be a choice. When I pointed this out to the nice folks who work at the BoE they did then change it, 13 months after people were entitled to register Libertarian.

    I guess that means we won't need a law suit before the federal Department of Justice about voter suppression in DC, requiring DC's elections to be watched and managed like some rural county in the deep South. Unless they start asking Libertarian voters for a photo ID anyway.

    Anyway since the slow moving bureaucracy was prodded to follow its own laws, a case study of why we need more Libertarians in office, 20-30 new people register as Libertarian every month. That is, our registration grows 10-15% a month, a faster growth rate than the other parties, who actually seem, nationally anyway, to be losing voters to the ranks of the Independents.

    Now that we have 9 candidates running I suspect that rate will pick up later in the year.

  • Josh McCullough

    The fact that this arbitrary barrier even exists is disgusting. Voters have a right to hear all points of view, regardless of which party a candidate identifies. We need open debates, and the fact that we don't have them is really a disgrace.

  • DCCommish

    Josh this is why your an idiot. It's a democratic primary debate so if your not a Dem then your out! Have a debate at the time of the general and they can be in the light! You must be from the other party which means you belong in VA the hater state! Bye bye Josh!

  • http://Www.dclibertarians2014.blogspot.com Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayoy

    Hey DCCommish are you sure your from DC? Because you seem no to know that the April 1 primary is a primary for all parties. My name and the names of 7 other Libertarians are on the ballot, and even if you are registered No Party or Democrat you can show up and ask for a challenge ballot and vote in the primary you choose. Since many Democrats don't seem to like any of the choices being offered to them I encourage them to do so.

    And some of these primaries have contested races, like that of Ms. Aiken and Mr. Puryear. But large organizations, some of whom benefit from grants and tax breaks, like American University, spend money advertising forums they host as candidate forums instead of Democratic forums. Perhaps they know where the bread is buttered?

    The amusing thing about some of these forums, which I have attended as an audience member when not invited, is that half the candidates they do invite don't show up. It's usually Mayor Gray and then some Democrats polling at 1% - less than the 6% I got as a Libertarian in 2012 or the 7-23% Libertarians got in races in Virginia last year. Bowser and Evans often skip these forums, like the one Greens Aiken and Puryear were forced to crash sponsored by DC for Democracy.

  • http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com G. Lee Aikin

    One thing needs to be clarified. DC for Democracy is NOT chartered as a Democrat Party organization. The day of their forum a number of people, including noted Democrats, were arguing by email for the Statehood Green Party inclusion. When I arrived a little late I did not know the outcome, so when At Large was called I went up and took a seat. Then Eugene's supporters urged him to go up too. In my 1 minute opening statement I explained the controversy and said if they wanted me to leave, I would, but a number said "stay" so we did.

    My greatest accomplishment is a result of 10 years effort to restore justice to our DC taxes. The Tax Revision Commission has agreed we need to restore parity of our Deductions and Exemptions with the IRS 1040. If the Council agrees we will get back $85 million every year.
    Anyone wishing to know more about me can go to my blog:

    Regarding our primary contest, Eugene was formerly in the Party for Liberation and Socialism and apparently only joined our party in Novemberbecause his party does NOT have ballot status and thus would have to collect many signatures to take part in the Primary. For more information see: